Maelyn Jarmon interview: 'The Voice' season 16 winner
Maelyn Jarmon was the first contestant John Legend pressed his button for on his debut season of "The Voice."
The 26-year-old singer earned a four chair turn and a standing ovation from judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend after her sultry powerhouse rendition of Sting's "Fields of Gold" in the blind auditions.
AOL had the chance to chat with Jarmon about the pressure that came with her season 16 triumph, what it was like meeting Taylor Swift, and the moment she realized what she was made of.. Check out our full conversation below!
Let's take it back to the first night. How did it feel when all four judges turned their chairs and John Legend told you that you had "magic"? Even watching your family's reaction made me so emotional!
They [my family] are so sweet. They've put just as much work into this as I have so for them it's just as exciting as it is for me. And it's exciting for me to take them along this journey. That day I was actually the last to audition on the first day and it was such a long day. I had no idea what had happened and I was told that John had yet to have anybody on his team and I was like "Oh my gosh, he's being picky already." So I had no expectations going into it. I was like "I'll be happy with any chair turn." But I knew if he turned, I wanted him.
He is such an amazing musician, songwriter. He obviously is an EGOT [winner]. He's got everything and he's fresh to this season, so I figured he'd be excited and ready to work and that's exactly what happened. When he turned I was beside myself, I couldn't believe it. It was seriously so shocking and that could have been my only experience on the show and I would have felt like a winner because it was more than I could have ever expected.
That echoes what you said last night. You went into this having no expectation and then to be the last one standing, what was the first thing going through your mind when Carson announced your name last night?
Ya know, Carson takes a long time to say who the winner is [laughing] but it was great because I told myself to really take in that moment and savor that. I had so many friends and family in the audience that I looked out at the arena and connected with them. I thought "take in this moment, you're never going to get this back." No matter what happened I was always going to be proud and thrilled. If Gyth won, I would have been so excited for him.
It was so amazing because of course there's a little bit of pressure in the sense that it was John's first season. It was hyped to be the 'legendary' season and I was the last horse in the race for him, so there's a little pressure there. When my name was announced John got so excited. He was so happy and he's such a quiet person. You know? He'll get excited but he's very quiet. For him to be that animated was like "oh my god." This is insane and to be able to take it home together after so much work and time is incredible.
What do you hope your relationship with John becomes past the show? Brynn Cartelli opened up for Kelly Clarkson. Do you see something like that happening?
That would be absolutely incredible to be able to do a show with him or collaborate on a song - anything honestly. But I'm already just so grateful for what he's already done for me and everything else will be gravy
You covered Rihanna's "Stay," "The Scientist" and even Maggie Rogers. How did you go about choosing what songs you were going to perform. Did John have a say in that?
John's input was very important and we took a lot of risks. They all ended up paying off. John was very hands on. After "Falling Water" he became very hands on in picking the song and he actually solely picked "Stay" for me. We had collaborated on ideas for "The Scientist." We were both excited about that one, but for "Stay," he was like, "I really want you to do this. I'm excited about it and it will show something a little different for you."
I had some insecurities at first and then I was like "you know what, this your time to challenge yourself and do what your made of." I loved being able to do that and have him really help me through that.
Similar to "The Scientist," just like your audition with Stings "Fields of Gold," you rearranged the melodies. They both sounded completely your own. Why did you chose to audition with "Fields of Gold"?
It's a classic and it hasn't really been in the public eye in a while. It's still a very well-known song, but it hasn't been played in a while and there aren't many covers of it out there that have been done on singing competition shows. So, I chose that because it is a classic and I was really able to switch it up. And because it was originally done by Sting, a male artist, even just switching genders can change the perspective of the song. I love doing that because the female perspective is just so different. You could sing the same words but they mean different things.
What did you like about having "Wait For You" has your original song? It's so good and super catchy.
It's so catchy! Haley Warner was the writer on that (among other people). She is the coolest chick and I heard that song and it just spoke to me because it reminds me of my current situation. I am in an amazing relationship with an amazing man but distance is hard on any relationship, no matter how strong it is. We talked about it but at the end of the day I want him to know that no matter how far away I am, that my heart is always with him. He may have to wait a little bit but I'm right here and I'm still going to be here.
That's so sweet. Was he in the audience last night? He must be so excited for you.
Oh my god, he was and he came on stage at the end. He's been so excited this whole time. It's so funny, he'll just look at me and be like "that's my girlfriend." We're both like, "this is weird." [Laughing]
What were your biggest challenges on "The Voice?" You've opened up about your hearing disabilities. Did you ever feel like that was going to hold you back in your career?
Yes, absolutely. I wasn't sure how it was going to effect me because it felt like a superpower my whole life and I've been able to work around it and use it to my advantage. But I had never worked with in-ears before or have been on a platform like this so I didn't know how that would effect me. That was a challenge -- getting used to that because it was very different.
In the end my hearing disability ended up being an advantage because during my performance of "Stay," my in-ears went out, and because I've had so much experience with not being able to hear myself and going based off of feeling rather than what I'm hearing, I was able to check in with myself and pull through with it. I love those kinds of moments because that's when you find out what your made of.
What lane do you see yourself going down? What kind of music do you want to make?
The type of music that I make is rooted in alternative indie pop. It's hard to put yourself in one genre these days but I think that's where it's rooted in. I have a lot of different elements and a lot of different influences in my voice and depending on what range I write my songs or what the song is about, different things will come true in different songs.
It's going to be a variety of things but with with a constant through everything to make it cohesive with different flavors here and there.
What was it like meeting Taylor Swift last night? You guys took the cutest picture!
It was freaking incredible! She actually requested to meet me and I was like "WHAT?!" She told me she was a big fan and I was like "you've got to be kidding me, what is my life!?"
Did Taylor have any advice for you?
Well, it was a very quick moment. She had to go into rehearsal. There was no advice given but just love and support and it's amazing because I feel like women need that. Women need to support women more so that was a really nice moment.
And you sang with Sarah Mclachlan last night!
When I had asked for the possibility of Sarah Mclachlan for my A-list duet, the team was super exited and then when she accepted I was like "Oh my god, this is a dream!" She is the coolest person and then she Instagram messaged me today "I told you you'd win! It was such a pleasure singing with you." She is just the best.
John has touched every category of the entrainment field. What is the biggest lesson you've learned from him overall?
I think just to trust my instinct and trust my artistry. I've questioned myself a lot before I did this and he's really taught me to trust myself and that's huge. I think every artist is their biggest critic and their worst enemy sometimes. He really validated a lot of things for me and that's priceless.
This interview has been edited and condensed.